MRI Saturday and already stressed

Okay so after 11 years and more Mri’s than hot dinners I should be okay with these by now …you would think! and to be fair I was until a few years when one lovely nurse decided to scare the hell out of me by deciding I needed another canular for who knows what reason and when she could not get it in my hand aimed for the vein in my elbow and missed (I have rubbish veins) several times then tries the other elbow all whilst I was “strapped to the table” and fastened in that head gear getting very upset and crying. She then proceeded to put me back in the scanner still hysterical and wondered why I pressed the call bell about a million times and demanded to be released and called an end to the scan.

Since then we have varying degrees of success but mostly I lie there terrified, shaking which isn’t overly helpful and in tears and get wound up to the point of actual vomiting before going into the hospital on scan day. Last year begrudgingly they let my husband in with me but even then it was really really difficult.

So here we are again 3 days to go before the next one a head, neck and spine and I’m already anxious, I’m not that person I don’t do worry, I don’t do scared but I’m terrified I have that knot, I’m thinking of excuses not to go ! There has to be a better way than this? My consultant won’t do a CT as its not detailed enough, but I can feel like this every 6-9 months.

Any ideas or suggestions please ?



Sal I might be missing something here so apologies, what do you need the canular for? I had a full head and neck MRI about a year ago and I didn’t need a canular. Charlie

hi sal you had a very bad experience with that nurse (who seems to be in need of some in-service training) but this time be very firm with anyone who tries to put a canula in. say that you’re aware that your veins like to hide and that you had a very bad experience last time. i once had a canula put into a vein on my foot! they are very raised on my instep. that particular medic was really nice and gentle. so separate the MRI from the canula fiasco. you aren’t afraid of the actual MRI, you’re afraid of a rough nurse putting a canula in your arm. deep breathing (like the sort you do in childbirth) is very calming. in through the nose - 2 3 4 out through the mouth - 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 try it, it really help me deal with all sorts of stress. believe in yourself, given a decent nurse you’ll be fine.


Hi Sal,

I’m scared of being in situations I can’t get out of , so the thought of an MRI was scary.

I went to my Dr and she prescribed a sedative, think prozac, it worked a treat.

Hope it goes well.


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Hi Charlie

The cannula is for contrast dye to be injected. So what they do is initial scans without contrast, then pull you out midway to inject the dye and put you back in to repeat the scans. It helps to show more detail.


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Hi Sal

They should put the cannula in before the scan starts, that way all they have to do is pull you out, inject into the cannula then push you back in.

If they don’t sort out the cannula before the scan, ask them to do so.

It’s a bit late now to ask your doctor for a sedative, you could try, but it might be a bit close to the scan, it’s worth asking for next time though.

Deep breathing is a good tip. Try counting and concentrating on the counting as well. You could also try thinking yourself into relaxation, by starting with relaxing your toes, then your shins, knees, all the way up to your head, by concentrating your mind it’s harder to get into a panic mode.

Or try to remember all the lyrics of a song. Someone the other day (damn my brain for forgetting who!) said she was in the MRI and running/singing ‘One Man Went to Mow’ through her head. Apparently it goes very well with the noise of the machine.

Make sure the technician is aware of your fear/panic potential and ask them to keep talking to you.

If they don’t offer, ask for a cushion under your knees, it’s easier to stay still and comfortable.

Hopefully it won’t be so bad this time.


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Sue - I suspected that was the case, I guess mine have all been contrast free over the years. C.

I would let them know as you go in how you feel, Sue is right. I do my times table in my head when I go in which is regularly. You can also ask for a blanket on your legs to feel cozy and I always take socks as it can get a bit chilly. on the toes.

I have had some interesting times during the MRI, the worst you will laugh, was terrible in that the headphones they put on before I rolled in was ‘the rat pack’ arrrrhhh I hate all of that. It was like some slow torture, 45 minutes of rat pack men singing. So next time the nice young man who was managing put his iphone through the system and I had some scratchy heavy metal, which completely took my mind off it.

I have a canula each time. The dye for me goes in after about half the time, they always ask throughout the process via the headphones if I am ok. They know I am an old hand at MRIs now so they don’t make much fuss but they are very professional throughout. I do always let them know that at least two of them will need to turn me and lift me off the thing at the end so I always wear good undies just in case ha ha. The very first one some years ago, they said ‘Up you get now’ then walked off into the cubicle, then came back in ages later whilst I was still flapping about trying to get up. Idiots!

My coping mechanism might be different to others, but I don’t feel fear or anything else about MRIs but I do have to plan carefully. I prefer very early appointments as I don’t tend to drink, eat then drive (too many problems). I wake up extra early to drink my two teas, then have a nice bath, then get to the appointment at least an hour before. I want a nice easy parking space, money for the machine, then I want to sit quietly in the MRI waiting area. I get a really good book usually about war experiences which puts mine into perspective, then I read and go to the small room if needed well in time and in the right place. If necessary I do some deep relaxed breathing and stretching my toes and legs before they have to lie down. Three times, I have been called in an hour early and been home before I could even blink because so many people don’t turn up for their MRIs. I have had one on my birthday, Easter Sunday and a last minute one when they called my house and said we have a cancellation can you get here in 40 minutes. ‘Well yes!’

I remind myself that out of all the tests, this is the one that has the answers and I am an answers kind of girl. I am also . quite verbal so if it was me and I was scared I would also tell them that you had a ‘s-----’ experience which has terrified you with the canula thing, let them know first. They will be thoughtful. Good luck, don’t forget, ask for good music and do your times table in your head. Big breathing once you are in .

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Hi Sally,## Sorry to hear that you are getting wound up about going to the hospital for MRI again. I found the second time I went in the MRI I was more anxious than the first time. I think the quicker they slide you in the better and what I did to cope this time was I kept my eyes closed all the time and thought about my niece saying to me it’s easy Auntie I’ve had one.## Try keeping your eyes closed as soon as you go in and think of something funny or nice. Or sing a fav song to yourself.## Hope your scans will be good news Sally.## Kind regards## Curly x

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How did you get on?